Consuming more than two soft drinks a day can double risk of diabetes

Oct 2016

Drinking more than two soft drinks per day – whether sugary or artificially sweetened – can double the risk of developing two types of diabetes, according to a new study published today in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, causing a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high because their cells are resistant to the hormone insulin. Type-1 diabetes is less common, where specialised beta cells in the pancreas cannot make enough insulin. A third type of diabetes, accounting for 9% of all cases and sometimes known as ‘type-1.5’ is Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), which develops in adulthood and shares characteristics of both type-1 and type-2. People with LADA typically have a normal BMI, and the progression of the disease means that the immune system mistakenly bombards insulin-producing beta cells, requiring patients to eventually need insulin injections like people with type-1 diabetes.

In this study, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden investigated the impact of drinking sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks on the risk of developing LADA or type-2 diabetes. They collected the self-reported eating and drinking habits of 2,874 Swedish adults (357 with LADA, 1136 with type-2 diabetes and 1371 healthy controls). The team evaluated the number of soft drinks each group consumed up to a year before their diagnosis, as well as measuring their levels of insulin resistance, beta cell function and autoimmune response.

The results showed that drinking more than two 200ml servings of soft drinks a day doubled the risk of LADA and increased the risk of developing type-2 diabetes 2.4-fold. Consuming five daily servings increased the risk of developing LADA 3.5-fold and type-2 diabetes 10.5-fold. The increased risk of developing either type of diabetes was the same for either sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks. There was no measurable link between soft drink consumption and autoimmune response in LADA patients.

“It was interesting to find that the autoimmune response to the number of soft drinks consumed stayed the same,” said Josefin Edwall Löfvenborg, lead author of the study. “This could mean that the increased risk of developing LADA in relation to soft drink consumption isn’t directly caused by the immune response killing beta cells – which is what we see in type-1 diabetes.”

People with LADA have a degree of insulin resistance like type-2 diabetes patients, explains Josefin, so it could be that soft drinks increase the risk of both LADA and type-2 diabetes by influencing glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

“In this study we were surprised by the increased risk in developing autoimmune diabetes by drinking soft drinks,” said Josefin. “We next plan on investigating what could counter this risk, such as eating fatty fish. We are looking into this now using data from eight different countries across Europe.”

Whilst this study discusses the relative risk of developing LADA and type-2 diabetes, it does not discuss the absolute risk of developing either of these conditions, though it is estimated 1 in 11 people worldwide have diabetes. The study also had a retrospective design, and patients were asked to recall their eating habits in the preceding year, potentially leading to bias.


Notes for Editors

1. The study Sweetened beverage intake and risk of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) and type 2 diabetes will be published in the European Journal of Endocrinology once the embargo lifts. For copies of the study please contact the press office.

For press enquiries please contact the ESE press office: 

Omar Jamshed

Communications Executive

European Society of Endocrinology

Tel: (+44) (0)1454 642237


Julia Bakker

Communications Intern

European Society of Endocrinology

Tel: (+44) (0)1454 642237


2. The European Journal of Endocrinology is published by Bioscientifica, an innovative and agile publisher. Bioscientifica collaborates with learned societies worldwide to develop new and existing quality products that meet the ever-changing needs of the biomedical community. Our publishing portfolio includes journals and online resources, including Journal of Endocrinology, Endocrine Related Cancer, Endocrine Connections, Bone Abstracts,Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Case Reports and Echo Research and Practice. Bioscientifica is a wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of the Society for Endocrinology.

3. The European Society of Endocrinology was created to promote research, education and clinical practice in endocrinology by the organisation of conferences, training courses and publications, by raising public awareness, liaison with national and international legislators, and by any other appropriate means.


Obesity risk may be increased by exposure to common environmental chemicals
Setting fair regulations for top female athletes that have naturally higher testosterone levels
Environmental toxins can impair sexual development and fertility of future generations
Sleep problems in teenagers reversed in just one week by limiting screen use
Men ignore serious health risks of steroid abuse in pursuit of the body beautiful
Breastfeeding reduces long-term risk of heart disease in mothers
Mentally tiring work may increase diabetes risk in women
Antioxidants may prevent cognitive impairment in diabetes
Skin inflammation may increase your risk of type-2 diabetes
Debate - Is the gut or the brain more important in regulating appetite and metabolism?
Routine vitamin B12 screening may prevent irreversible nerve damage in type-2 diabetes
Good nutrition could protect children from cognitive difficulties caused by early-life stress
Women more resilient to extreme physical activity than previously reported
Oestrogens in cows’ milk are unlikely to pose a threat to adult health
Diabetic patients are more at risk of death from alcohol, accidents and suicide
Too much vitamin A may increase risk of bone fractures
Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss in obese children
Vitamin B supplements may protect kidney function in children with diabetes
Bad habits in childhood may lead to an ‘unhealthy’ balance of gut bacteria and increase health risks in later life
Lord Robert Winston cautions that advances in infertility therapies may be hindered by over-regulation
New link identified between inflammation and depression in type-1 diabetes
Walking a tightrope: universal thyroid testing could reduce pregnancy problems in some cases, but interfere with healthy pregnancies in others
Brain stimulation may reduce food cravings as obesity treatment
Larger waistlines are linked to higher risk of vitamin D deficiency
Transgender brains are more like their desired gender from an early age
Could intermittent fasting diets increase diabetes risk?
Minimising exposure to common hormone-disrupting chemicals may reduce obesity rates
Brain development disorders in children linked to common environmental toxin exposures
Children born to mothers with low vitamin D levels may develop autism-like behaviours
Over-the-counter antihistamines linked to impaired fertility in men
Arthritis drug can lower sugar levels in diabetes
Potential new target for reducing osteoporosis risk in men
Successful male infertility treatment does not lower fertility of sons
Warm temperatures can lead to misdiagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy
Guidelines for management of recurrent pituitary tumours recommend new drug as first line treatment
Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may reduce fertility of daughters
Link found between morning sickness, smoking and healthy pregnancies
High fat diet during childhood may increase PCOS risk later in life
Early pregnancy test for cows improves welfare and food production
International collaboration release revised guideline for improved management of Turner syndrome
Treating PCOS with a combination of oral contraceptives and spironolactone does not increase the risk of diabetes or heart disease
Vitamin D supplements could help pain management
Breast cancer risk is more affected by total body fat than abdominal fat
New nanotechnology application for difficult-to-treat cancers
Just six months of frequent exercise improves men’s sperm quality
Consuming more than two soft drinks a day can double risk of diabetes
Age-related scarring in ovaries may explain reproductive decline
Happy cows make more nutritious milk
Third of pregnant women iron deficient; risk thyroid-related pregnancy complications
New recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of Adrenal Incidentalomas published in the European Journal of Endocrinology
Sitting down for long periods when pregnant linked to weight gain and depression
New drug provides safer alternative to conventional IVF treatment
Enzyme potential target for fight against obesity and diabetes
Bursts of high-intensity exercise could help diabetes patients manage low blood sugar levels
Soybean foods may protect menopausal women against osteoporosis
Vitamin D pill a day may improve exercise performance and lower risk of heart disease
Diabetes associated with increased risk of serious bacterial blood infection
Breast cancer risk higher in women with overactive thyroid
Injection of appetite gene may offer a more effective alternative to dieting
Hyperthyroidism could be great cost to countries in disability benefits
Mother’s hormone levels predict child’s ability to do maths